There is a shop in Ipoh, one of the northern states in Malaysia, famous for their salt baked chicken. And then there's the lesser known one just 2 roads away. I'd found it by accident trying to find the more popular shop. After buying one from there, we went further up the main strip and found the other. So, I had to buy another chicken. Why not? I need to compare, right?
And the verdict .... I like the one from the underdog. I can't quite put my finger on why I prefer that. It could be that it's more herbally, the chicken tastes more free- rangey (yeah, that's a word). You know how free-range chicken meat is a little tougher and stringier than commercially bred chickens? Well, it's like that.
Anyway, point of the post is, I've been trying to replicate the flavors at home and haven't had much luck. Sometimes, one may get all the spices and seasonings correct but it's in the tweakings of the proportions that can make or break a recipe.
Or, you might get lucky and have a fairy-blogmother send you the perfect concoction in a packet!
In this case, it was Elin of Elinluv's Tidbits Corner. (Thank you so much, Elin!) Actually, she sent me this a while ago and I've been happily using the spice mix in different ways and each time trying hard to get a nice pic to do justice to her generosity and kindness. But each time it gets gobbled up so quick, or folks complaining about the chicken getting cold and not too appetizing ... you get the picture ... or not.
This was also a technique I learnt from Shannon of Just as Delish ... Oven Fried Chicken. Yup, Oven + Fried. Nope, my brain ain't fried, just the chicken. I love this way of cooking chicken. Of course, it doesn't get as crispy as deep frying but there is a delicate crunch minus the usage of potfuls of oil. I hate deep frying. I don't hate eating fried foods, just hate doing it myself. You can get Shannon's version here.
I used what Elin sent me to marinade this. The original recipe calls for the chicken to be baked in a salt crust or as the packet of spices instructed, to use the foil included as a wrap. But, like I said, I'd used the oven-baked way instead for today. You can see how it's supposed to be done using the foil here, at Elin's.
Either way, it's easy, no hassle, no mess, no extra oils ... no kidding!
If you can get your hands on this packet of spices, I highly recommend it. For the folks who aren't of this world ... I mean, this side of the big blue .... try out this way of "frying". I'm very happy with it and I'm sure you will be too. Just use dry-ish seasoning and make sure the coating is sticky and not watery. That's all there is to it!
2 whole chicken legs (with skin)
1/3 pack of salted chicken seasoning (scroll all the way down for pack) / or just use your favorite dry marinade
1 1/2 - 2 tbs cornflour
Make slits (or not, I do that to make sure my chicken's thoroughly cooked through) on chicken. (See pic)
Rub marinade all over (chicken, of coz. Oh boy.) and into the slits.
Place in a baggy, seal and leave to marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours (not too necessary).
Preheat oven to 200˚C.
Rub cornflour evenly all over chicken. You'll want a sticky, paste-like coating. If it's too dry add a little water. (Too watery and it won't turn out crispy)
Place a rack (big enough to hold all pieces in a single layer) on a lined baking tray, place the chicken on top and bake, skin side up, for about 45 mins (depending on the size of the pieces) or until skin is crisp and nicely browned. (This is to prevent the chicken from soaking in the juices or fat).
Serve hot with a side of greens or whatever.
*Important note: This is best served hot out of the oven. If left too long, the skin gets chewy. Not advisable to make for the next day.